The Apple of Your i
By David Gill
Next year, the iPod will become ten years old.
It hardly seems possible that a product that has become associated with the newest in technology for consumers could have already reached double digits in age. In point of fact, however, Apple Corp. first unleashed the iPod in 2001--and has since updated it with the introductions of the iPod Touch, the iPod Nano, and the iPod Shuffle.
Apple did more than debut a new form of handheld entertainment when it introduced the iPod: It also spawned a whole industry that manufactures and markets accessories for this now-iconic product. Vendors have stepped up with iPod docking stations, speakers, earphones of all sizes, cables, mounts, charging kits and other merchandise designed to enhance the consumer's iPod experience.
The market for these accessories is already huge and growing steadily. According to Apple's website, 275 million iPods have been sold from the product's first entrance into the market through Sept. 1 of this year.
Unsurprisingly, two of the largest retailers offering iPod accessories (and iPods, too, of course) are Walmart and Best Buy. Recently, HFN looked through a Walmart location and a Best Buy store, both in New Jersey, to see how they stack up in presenting and merchandising these products.
Located in Morris Plains, N.J., the Walmart had a small section devoted to iPods and accessories in the consumer-electronics section near the store's back wall. IPods are offered on an half-oval fixture located at the entrance to the consumer-electronics area. The accessories are all on one side of a standard rectangular fixture behind the iPod display as one faces the consumer-electronics section, with a run measuring approximately 30 feet.
Among the accessory categories in Walmart are earphones, music download cards, cable, adaptors for car radios, screen protectors, cases, speakers and docks. The brands include Belkin, Logic, Immerse, WriteRight, Griffin, Sony, Koss, Merkury, Apple, JVC, iHome and Gumy.
One accessory also featured here is the iTrip, a Griffin product that serves an adaptor that allows one to play his or her iPod on any FM radio--home, car or even boom box.
The Walmart accessories fixture is adjacent to the televisions and sound systems situated on the store's back wall. GPS systems, surge protectors and audio and video accessories are on the opposite side of the iPod accessories fixture.
It would take time for a shopper to find the iPods and accessories in this Walmart. It would take a shopper no time at all to find these products in the Best Buy. Located in East Hanover, N.J., this store hits the shopper with this merchandise as soon as he or she enters through the sliding doors.
The section is right in front and is introduced by way of an enormous, deep blue circular sign that hangs from the ceiling, on which the words "iPod" and MP3" are emblazoned. Directly underneath this sign, iPods are displayed under glass cases on an s-shaped fixture.
The accessories are located adjacent to this fixture on standard rectangular fixtures. On the side of one fixture, earphones, cases, armbands, invisible shields, battery packs, music downloads and wall chargers are grouped together. Among the brands represented on this side are Gumy, Sony, JVC, Klipsch, Smokin' Bud, Titan and Skullcandy.
On the opposite side of this fixture are iPod cases, invisible shields, battery packs, music download cards and wall chargers. Griffin, Init, DLO, Belkin, Tribeca, Riot Outfitters, Zune, Zagg, Dynex, Rocket Fish, Sennheiser and Finis are among the brands represented here.
Next to this is another standard rectangular fixture offering docks, both audio and USB cables, mounts, charging kits, car-radio adaptors, more music download cards, more earphones and car cassette adaptors. Belkin, RocketFish, Dynex, Griffin and ME are the vendors highlighted here. More cases, download cards, audio cables and wall chargers--made by Dynex and Griffin--are presented on one of the end caps of this fixture.
On the back of still another rectangular fixture, this one behind the S-shaped iPod fixture as you enter the store, has docks, speakers and iPod alarm-clock docks. The brands on display here are Logitech, iHome, Insignia, Altec Lansing and Pure-Fi.